Keeping oocytes fit with Topoisomerase-3
During germ cell development faulty meiocytes are eliminated via apoptosis, a programmed cell death to ensure that only healthy gametes are produced. The lab of Verena Jantsch has now discovered a previously undescribed role for topoisomerase 3 (TOP-3) in oocyte quality control of the model organism C. elegans. In the absence of TOP-3, cells accumulate aberrant recombination intermediates in the pre-meiotic and meiotic compartments of the gonad that are less capable of triggering apoptosis. DNA repair is directed to less accurate pathways, resulting in a pool of oocytes with low quality. The study is published in the Journal of Cell Biology.
From Bench to Bedside - Molecular Pathogenesis to Precision Medicine
The Medical University of Vienna in cooperation with the University of Vienna has launched a new Master´s Program in Molecular Precision Medicine dedicated to an understanding of human pathogenesis and the treatment of disease at a molecular and mechanistic level. The course brings basic, translational, and clinical scientists together with doctors to educate students in the opportunities, challenges, and future perspectives of precision medicine.
No centrioles? No problem!
Centrioles are surrounded by a dense meshwork of proteins called the pericentriolar material (PCM), which together form centrosomes, the main microtubule-organizing centers of the cell. Alexander Dammermann’s group has discovered that centrosomes persist without centrioles in post-mitotic neurons of C. elegans. Key components of the PCM are expressed and incorporated into these centrosomes independent of centrioles and known mitotic regulators. The study, published in Current Biology, suggests that the assembly and maintenance of mitotic and non-mitotic centrosomes may be different.
Tiny droplets – huge impact: FWF doc.funds grant on liquid-liquid phase separation
The Austrian Science Fund has granted a doc.fund to a group of researchers from the Max Perutz Labs, the Faculty of Physics of the University of Vienna, the IMP and the IMBA. The grant is endowed with 1,6 Million Euros and will fund eight PhD positions over four years. Students will be recruited via the Vienna BioCenter PhD Program, and will receive multidisciplinary training to tackle fundamental questions in the field of liquid-liquid phase separation in biology. The doc.fund expects to start recruiting in fall 2021, and is coordinated by Bojan Zagrovic, a computational biologist at the Max Perutz Labs.
Hidden in plain sight: A-type lamins in the nucleus
Lamins are structural proteins found at the nuclear periphery, where they regulate the mechanical properties of the nucleus and the organization of genetic material within the nucleus. However, they also play a poorly understood role in the nucleoplasm. New work from the lab of Roland Foisner and their collaborators from the Bar Ilan University (Israel) now shows that binding of A-type lamins in the nuclear interior to a protein called LAP2α regulates their mobility and that of surrounding chromatin. The study is published in e-life.
Living in a gated community – how stem cells preserve their identity
Pluripotent stem cells can give rise to all the different types of specialized cells in the adult organism. Scientists led by Martin Leeb have identified hundreds of genes involved in the exit from naïve pluripotency and show that their activity is largely confined to five key signaling pathways. Their study, published in the EMBO Journal, provides a comprehensive map of the genetic circuits that gate this fundamental cell state transition.
Open Call: Max Perutz PhD Fellowships
The Max Perutz Labs have established a new doctoral fellowship program that will reward the most ambitious and innovative PhD students at the institute. The program is supported by the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna and covers three fully funded positions per year.
Tearing down walls for a new beginning
The Max Perutz Labs are rebuilding key parts of the institute. The opening of the new entrance, reception, and study space for students marks a first milestone of a major project.
Shedding new light on an old problem
The protein kinase Ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) is at the heart of the cellular response to DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). Using super-resolution microscopy, the lab of Peter Schlögelhofer has explored the impact of ATM depletion during multiple steps of meiosis in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana at unprecedented resolution. Organisms lacking ATM exhibit a loss of fertility associated with a failure to correctly repair DSBs. The findings, published in The Plant Cell, describe previously unrecognized influences of ATM on the structure of meiotic chromosomes.
“Basic research and teaching should go hand-in-hand”
Joao Matos was born in Portugal, did his PhD at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (Germany), and carried out postdoctoral work in the UK. Later, he joined the ETH (Switzerland) as an Assistant Professor in 2014 and was appointed Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at the Max Perutz Labs / University of Vienna in 2020. We talked to him about how he fell in love with meiosis, why University education should be led by basic research scientists, and how his high school teachers stopped him from becoming a football player.
Strength in numbers: how weak enhancers can be powerful gene regulators
How multiple enhancer elements cooperate to drive expression of their target gene is poorly understood. New research from the lab of Christa Bücker shows how a group of enhancers with weak individual activity can work together to induce robust transcription of a gene. The study is published in Molecular Cell.
Revealing the genetic code of ribosomal RNAs
Despite modern sequencing methods, determining the precise sequence of the genetic code for ribosomal RNA (rRNA) has been technically challenging due to its repetitive nature. The Lab of Peter Schlögelhofer has now, for the first time for any organism, sequenced and assembled large parts of the rDNA-encoding nucleolus organizing region of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. In their study, published in Nature Communications, the scientists also identified several tissue-specific rRNA variants, which may have functional roles in specialized ribosomes.